Manassas Fire Chief Rob Clemons announced Feb. 28 that he will be retiring from his post in July. Clemons has been in the role since 2016, when he was sworn in following the retirement of longtime chief Brett Bowman.
Clemons has over 27 years of professional firefighting experience, as well as 12 years as a volunteer. According to a post on the city’s Facebook page, he’s been telling fire and rescue staff of his decision in meetings with individual shifts this week.
“You have to know that I love being your chief and being there for all of you. Each of you mean so much to me and being your chief has been the absolute highlight of my career,” Clemons said in the Facebook post.
Before coming to Manassas, Clemons served as a battalion chief with the Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue. According to the post, Clemons plans to move south with his wife and two dogs in retirement.
Fire and rescue workers from nearby departments as well as Manassas heaped praise on Clemons.
“Rob, you have been an outstanding chief, person and friend. You will be missed,” wrote former Manassas volunteer firefighter Robert Keller on Facebook. “I expect you to help find your replacement. Someone with your dedication to our city and the fire service.”
Councilperson Theresa Coates-Ellis also commented. “Thank you for your service to our community! You have been a very positive leader in our City of Manassas, inspiring everyone around you. We wish you well in your future plans,” she wrote.
City Manager Patrick Pate cited Clemons work in getting Fire and Rescue Station 21 built and securing equipment upgrades for staff and volunteers.
The new station at 10306 Dumfries Road broke ground in 2019 and is expected to be finished by the fall.
“Chief Clemons has done an outstanding job for the city. He’s come in and been really dedicated to making the whole system with both volunteer agencies and the career staff work together for the betterment of the community, to make sure we’re providing great services,” Pate said. “He’s been instrumental in getting upgrades to some of the fire and rescue equipment to make sure we have a safe environment for all our firefighters. He’s been a great asset to the community and he’ll be missed.”
As city manager, Pate’s office will conduct the search process for Clemons’s replacement. Pate said he’s optimistic that they’ll have someone lined up by the time Clemons leaves office in the summer.
“We’ll go out and do a wide search and we’ll look for the best candidate to come in and fill that,” Pate said. “I think we’ve got a great system here , so I think it’ll be a very attractive position for someone that wants to be a fire chief.”